Jim Backus Comments

On the LNVT's Origins

(From a letter sent to Lani Hart which she included in her Victory Tug Recollections, Dec 2010)


The Victory Tug 37ʼ was an important contribution to the American pleasure
boating industry for many reasons. I tend to think that all the boats designed and built
since the advent of fiberglass construction, the 37ʼ Victory Tug will be one selected for
museums in the future. I say this for the following reasons:

Lorenʼs idea of a tug, keeping with a traditional form was a new approach. While
the Sundowner and Nordic Tugs existed before the Victory Tugs, both were based on
Northwest salmon fishing boat lines that were out of character as was the semi and full
planing capabilities built into the Nordic Tugs. I still find it odd that the Nordic Tug
planes and doing so, ruins its purported purpose. the same holds true for the American

The Victory Tug looks like a tug because Loren saw a niche for a foreshortened
but accurate tug. There was a considerable amount of discussion to keeping the
appearance as true as possible within the constraints of its length. Originally we tried
for a 36ʼ but it just wasnʼt possible, so it grew an additional foot.

Another important design feature was the inclusion of the lobster boat bottom. At
the stern the bottom wraps up to form the curved transom, but forward and amidship to
the bottom is a very efficient Maine lobster boat bottom. The bottom I used was based
on known designs by Royal Lowell that were very clean and worked in a seaway. The
stern revision on the Victory 37ʼ took the planing component out making the design a
displacement speed only hull. (This is the reason why the tug has such a huge stern
wave above hull speed; she is trying to plane but there is no stern to support the lifting
effect forward.)

Another feature of the design is slight roll created by the turn in the bilge. The
tug has a soft turn to the bilge and as such she does roll slightly, but Loren wanted the
design to cruise for good distances and we were concerned with a snap roll as it would
have an effect on the helmsman due to the height above the DWL of the helm station. I
have heard some people didnʼt like the roll, but after hours at the wheel of a snap roll,
hard chine boat, I think they would change their minds.

A significant contribution to boating was the inclusion of the freeing ports, port
and starboard. Due to the design of the deck part, with the deck totally pooped, the
water contained within the deck weighted almost 14,000 pounds! Loren understood the
problem this could cause when using American Boat and Yacht Council standards of the
time; only 1.5 inch diameter scuppers were required. However with such a small
combined opening, clearing the deck would take would take too long. The Society of
Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) standards were used and after
several consultations and discussions with its engineers we went with freeing ports as
built. (The SNAME standards are for vessels over 200 feet so the formulas did not
translate well to the 37ʼ thus requiring the discussions.) At the time, I knew of no other
small craft that used freeing ports as the main method of off loading water from the

Loren wanted a boat that would track well and also have the propeller protected.
Lindsay Lord, a naval architect in the 1940ʼs had done a significant amount of work on
keel design for planing boats and using his information and calculations the keel was
sized and located as a function above of the above design waterline profile using the
profile center of effort (as in sailboat sail plan) to balance the keel. This was important
as the pilothouse structure sits forward and is high and large so it would have a major
effect on the center of side pressures.

Another feature that was included in the design (and to my knowledge was the
first time done on a small pleasure boat) was splitting the head to increase its
functionality. At the time, all heads were one person usage only - now this idea of
splitting the head is used often. (Iʼve seen ads called this a new idea!)

While great esthetic factor on the design, the split pilothouse door provided
safety while allowing the pilothouse to be ventilated. Split doors have been used on
large coastal tugs but it was an innovation when done on the Victory 37ʼ.

One factor most people are unaware of is how well built the Victory Tugs were
built. American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) standards were used for all nonstructural
aspects while Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineer (SNAME)
standards were used for structural calculations. Where the results was oversized (as
the standards then did not have a recreational boat stand alone standard) Scottʼs
original text on Fiberglass design was used as was Marine Design Manual for
Fiberglass Reinforced Plastics by Gibbs and Cox, Inc. If anything, the Victory tugs thus
far exceeded standard minimum factors for safety. For the windshield, automotive glass
standards were used to specify the thickness needed for green water service.

Perhaps one of the greatest results of the concept and building process (of
Victory Tug) is the realization of a yacht that has increased in value over time; a rare
occurrence today.


On LNVT Gross and Net Tonnage Calculations

(posted on the LNVT Forum Monday, 5 April 2010)

No calculations were ever done for the USCG Certificate of Documentation so I
thought I'd run the numbers to check how accurate the results were that are
shown on the various e-mails.

My calculations came out to Gross Tons being 21.54 and Net Tons being 17.23. So
the 21 and 17 mentioned in the e-mails look good.

The numbers are different for each boat most likely because the D value, draft,
is different in all the calculations. I had a small drawing to work from so I
used a scale factor to convert the dimensions. (The drawings for the Victory
Tugs are at Mystic Seaport in the Ships Plans department.) The problem with
draft is determining the location to take the deck to fairbody measurement or D.
In the Simplified Measurement booklet, D is defined as normally measured
from the deck edge down to where the hull meets the keel. The measurement
cannot be taken from the sheer as it is not the true deck edge location in the
instance of the tugs.

The deck edge is below the sheer the entire length of the design with the
dimension changing its entire length. At the same time, the draft is a curve
that changes depth its entire length with the deepest draft being forward of the
amidships section. The D value needs to be taken from at or near amidships for
the most realistic calculation. For this reason, the calculations for each boat
can differ; the value I use is 3.068 feet. (The freeing port openings are just
above the outboard edge of the deck.)

Another value that may change the Gross and Net ton calculations is the value
for the length of the principle deck structure, which is twenty-six feet one
inch give or take an half inch (again due to the use of a scale factor.). If
measured from the beam at eye level, the measurement might change as the forward
lower cabin flat might be hidden from view, reducing the dimension. The width is
approximately 8.884 feet but with a constantly changing curve, it is an
approximation at best. Again the pilothouse forward with the lower house ahead
of it makes determining a true height difficult. I used 4.9855 feet for the Ds

It may be possible to make a calculation using scale drawings to determine the
designed values for L, B, D, Ls, Bs and Ds and submit this for approval by the
USCG. Then each tug could have a copy of the calculations and backup drawings to
show measurement locations but I wonder if this is of any real value in the
scheme of things.

Comment: While the curvature of the design makes such calculations difficult, it
is the curvature that makes the design. It would have been easy to use straight
lines fore and aft and for the cabin tops but then the appearance would have
been lost. It was fortunate that Loren and Tommy were willing to build using
curvature and camber to a greater degree than most other designs.


On using 1/4" vs. the original 3/8" safety glass in LNVT windows

From: James Backus
To: Macy Galbreath
Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 6:41 AM
Subject: Re: Lord Nelsons


Backus Group LLC owns the plans to the Victory Tug designs and this response is from the design team within Backus Group LLC. As the managing member I make my response to your inquiry about reducing the Victory Tug glass thickness from 3/8" to 1/4" safety glass.

The window glass was specified using automobile industry standards and there appears to be no changes that would reduce the thickness required for the level of safety needed for passages the tugs undertake.

Our firm recommends maintaining that the 3/8 inch thickness. The primary reason for the thickness is green water issues in adverse weather. While a lesser thickness would be most likely be equally as safe in pristine conditions, Loren and our concern was for the times when things went from bad to worse.

The tug that you mention is using 1/4 safety glass should carry storm covers for each window so fitted, with particular importance paid to the pilothouse windows. (Storm windows should allow water to drain at the bottom of each window.) Such a system has been known to work effectively to protect the glass but tends to present the problem of where to store the storm covers when not in use. A box on the aft cabin deck could provide such storage. Please contact the tug using 1/4" safety glass and relay this message.

I believe the Victory Tugs were built to exceed most design standards as both Loren and I saw the potential for taking these boats offshore. From the laminate schedule to the freeing ports and windshield glass, the designs were developed to not just get crews where they wanted to go, but also get them home. Safety must be planned and prepared for; it rarely can be implemented when the sea becomes challenging.


On adding an anchor bow roller

from: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LNVT/message/1073

Sunday, July 12 2009

I’m an opposed to placing any form of anchor handling system on the bulwarks
of either the 37 or 49 Victory tugs. Hardware in boats and yachts should be
through bolted and backing plates used to spread loads. As built, there is no
easy way to get into the area of the hull/deck joint to add backing plates
forward. Backing plates must be used as loading a washer/nut can result in
crushed laminate over time. Positioning a roller system at the stem was not
incorporated into the design as there were insufficient surfaces forward to
allow for an installation as the deck was designed and built.
There are safety issues involved with bringing the anchor rode over the cap rail
so in consideration of these and the lack of surface support for an anchor
roller system, I am opposed to such an installation and would not approve such a
proposal. On an aesthetic note, a bow roller would have a detrimental effect on
the appearance of the design. Much effort went into the profile of this design
to insure that it would be instantly recognized as a tug. The Nordic and
American tugs, both planning hulls are said to be tugs but have fishing boat
heritages as can easily be seen when compared with the Victory tug.
Please note: the Victory tugs were designed to SNAME and ABYC standards as
existed in the 1980’s and while the standards have been updated, the standards
should be adhered to at all times when adding new equipment. All yards and
service providers should have copiers of ABYC standards.


On putting a staysail on an LNVT

from: private emails

From: "Key Stage"
To: su.sukcabmij|sukcabmij#su.sukcabmij|sukcabmij
Received: 8/16/2007 1:22:10 PM
Subject: Lord Nelson Victory Tug

Dear Mr. Backus,

I am very close to purchasing a Lord Nelson Victory Tug….very nice boats…..a really beautiful design you created. I plan on using a steadying sail aft of the mast on the boom, but can this Tug be rigged with a headsail, in case of engine failure at sea? Or, is the hull and displacement such that she just cannot be sailed in an emergency? Has anyone done this? I take my inspiration from the "troller" design similar to salmon rigs on the Oregon coast where I grew up.
Kind regards, and my thanks for any advice.

Key H. Stage, MD
Camden, Maine

Dr. Stage,
Thanks for the kind words on the design. The Victory tug was not designed to have a head stay option as the pilothouse raises the sail so high as to be ineffective if using the mast as designed. One solution would be to raise the mast but then it might change the character of the boat. This would require adding a head stay and shrouds and no allowances were made for these. Making secure bolting surfaces might be difficult and unless spreaders were used, the shrouds might make walking fore and aft difficult during the day and possibly dangerous at night. Once the changes are made, you alter the value of the design as such changes tend to "bastardize" the design, even if the intentions are good. Few if any tugs I have seen have head stays, shrouds or spreaders on board.

Raising the mast will also change the stability of the design; the heeling will increase and with the relative slack bilge it will tend to heel more than it does now. You may find that adding a sail will affect the steering as the keel was designed for a powerboat configuration with the center of effort at or near amidships. With a head stay, the center of effort will move forward and I would think tend to want to fall off all the time as the forces would be ahead of the center of effort. If the overall center of effort could be maintained there may be another problem in that the freeing ports would allow water on the deck which is the opposite reason for having them.
Personally, I wouldn't put a head stay on the design. I think that the troller designs you refer to have what may be termed a "steadying sail" which was intended to put pressure on the hull so that she'd lay over while underway and maintain a given angle of heel or attitude. This would allow the men to fish without being thrown about. I am not certain that a fully loaded salmon troller would be able to make headway with the sail carried. Consider adding a small, get-home generator rather than making the mast change. Between the structural changes needed, the cost of the mast and associated hardware plus the sail, the cost may be close enough to go with the generator.

I think the one thing you'll want to make certain is that you don't make a mink into a platypus.

Best regards,

Jim Backus

On an LNVT knock off and engine size

from: http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/boat-design/lord-nelson-victory-tug-11-5-m-4953.html


Join Date: Jan 2002
Rep: 11 Posts: 50
Location: Hamburg, Berlin, Germany
Lord Nelson Victory Tug 11.5 m

Dear Forum,

we have launched with our partner a new Lord Nelson Victory Tug this summer. Does anybody know anything about the history of these boats? Where to find their origin, some facts about the design or anything else would be great. We know really nothing (except how to biuldt…. ) The Boat made of a GRP-Hull with wood-epoxy-GRP - Superstructure, eqipped with an 100 HP-Engine…infact too small but ordered by the owner.

Some pictures and data sheets will be online the next days.

So far, best regards from Germany



The photographs Udo has shown are not of a Lord Nelson 37' Victory Tug. None were built in Germany. The design shown is by Dudley Dix, formerly of South Africa and now Virginia. While similar in profile, there are differences in the overall designs.

Most of the Victory Tugs had a 150 HP BMW engine standard. This was over sized for the design as it did not require more than fifty plus horsepower for anything it was intended to do. However, the builder was given a good price on the BMW so it was used without consulting me. With the stern designed as it was, full throttle produces about a three foot wake. But then the hull was never intended to exceed hull speed, which it did with full power. (No boat ever planned howver, as the hull could not break form the wave it was creating.)

I did do a modern tractor tug and am in the middle of developing a sixty foot version. There are no plans for viewing at this time. To reach me, use ten.labolgcbs|sukcabmij#ten.labolgcbs|sukcabmij. My web site is www.jimbackus.net

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